Rap and Hiphop Music: Then and Now


Are you a fan of rap and hiphop music? While rap refers more to a style of music, hiphop refers more to a culture linked to the music school.

Here are some interesting facts about rap and hiphop music:

1. The terms “rap” and “hip hop” have some interesting origins
As always, there’s sometimes some controversy about how such terms originated. However, there’s a general consensus about how “rap” and “hip hop” were first used. Rap itself was first known as “disco rap,” with disco being most popular during the 1970s.

Meanwhile, the term “hip hop” is often credited to Keith Cowboy. He was a rapper with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. It’s often been explained that the term refers to Cowboy’s friend, who had recently joined the U.S. army. The term “hip/hop” likely referred to the rhythm of soldiers who were marching. After Keith Cowboy first used the term, other rappers did as well, including The Sugarhill Gang in their hip hop classic “Rapper’s Delight.” Meanwhile, the first use of “hip hop” in print media was by Steven Hager. In 1984 he wrote an article in “The Village Voice” about the history of hip hop guitar and piano lessons.

2. Hip hop’s origins are varied
The origins of hip hop are quite varied, and can be explained from their roots. During the 1970s block parties became increasingly popular among young African-Americans. DJs who performed at the events played a variety of music, but especially the styles of funk and soul.

chaozeOne common method that DJs used was to isolate the “percussion breaks” of popular songs during the time. This skill was already popular among Jamaican club music, and was brought to New York City by immigrants to the U.S. from Caribbean areas such as Jamaica. This included DJ Kool Herc, who’s often referred to as the “founding father of hip hop.”

Another key element to the development of hip hop was its becoming a unique form of R&B music. Both drum machines and sampling technology was becoming widely available to the public during this time. Within time various sampling techniques combined with the percussion breaks, which eventually helped to develop rap music.

3. Rapping developed from emceeing
In fact, the term “rapping” is often also referred to as “emceeing.” It refers to the vocal style that the artist uses, rather than the music per se. For this reason lyrical rapping actually developed after the hip hop style of music developed. For example, many early hip hop tracks don’t contain any vocals at all. However, the vast majority of early hip hop tracks do indeed contain them.

The roots of rapping itself originate from African-American music, which itself originated from African music. In particular, rapping began in West African culture’s griots. Interestingly, the “godfathers” of hip hop music, such as musician James Brown and comedians Blowfly and Rudy Ray Moore, were not technically rappers or hip hop artists. However, their contribution to its development is certainly indisputable and noteworthy.

4. “Ice Ice Baby” is the best-selling rap single of all-time
The 1989 single was the one-hit wonder of Vanilla Ice. Amazingly the single has sold over 40 million copies worldwide. Ironically, Vanilla Ice’s popularity started to decline when the public started to perceive him as a pop star, rather than a legit rapper. Eminem, another prominent white rapper, is quoted as saying that when he first heard the song he lost his interest in rapping, and also became “mad” about the commercial nature of the single. In a bit of irony, Vanilla explains that his American fans tend to like his newer music better as it is less commercialized.